Roland Jourdain's team has confirmed that Veolia Environnement has lost her keel bulb

It has been confirmed by Roland Jourdain’s team that Veolia Environnement has lost her keel bulb. Read previous story here .

The boat is being kept as stable as possible with the ballast in the bow and in the middle – with the centre of effort of the sail plan kept as low as possible. It is still unknown exactly where the damage begins, as it may be the joint between the bulb and keel or higher on the keel blade.

For the moment it is out of the question to heel the boat over to see as this would risk causing the IMOCA Open 60 to capsize. It is also impossible for Jourdain to risk diving because of the sea state.

The first reaction was to continue to Les Sables d’Olonne, but it is understood that the skipper will not take any undue risk. For the moment he does not need to change course as the Azores are 600 miles ahead on his route. Until then, depending on the weather and sea state, everything will be done to ensure he can continue safely.

Roland Jourdain explained: “I can’t understand how I didn’t capsize. When I tried to look under the boat, I couldn’t see anything? Normally, I should have seen something, but I shan’t be diving in these conditions, as there is quite a swell. On the other hand, I do know that if I hoist more sail, the boat heels over so there is definitely a problem with the keel.

“In the coming hours, I’m going to have to keep a close watch on the situation depending on the sea and weather to see how I can safely continue. I’ll do my utmost to get back to Les Sables unless the sea state does not allow me or it is simply too risky. I just need a helping hand from destiny and some normal weather to complete the race.”

Roland Jourdain has slowed to just under seven knots as he nurses Veolia Environnement towards the Azores. He is 980 miles behind Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) who has about 700 miles to sail to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne (positions at 05:00 GMT, 30 January).

Jourdain’s only shred of solace at the moment may be that Armel Le Cléac’h, or the Jackal, is slowed by the Azores high pressure ridge. While Jourdain needs to consider his options, he will have been doing the maths. Bilou’s lead at the moment is equivalent to probably less than two average days racing.

For a discussion on keel failures in the Vendée Globe fleet, the problems the skippers face and what the class is discussing doing to try to solve these repeated catastrophic failures, see Elaine Bunting’s blog.